Spinal cord injuries are often very serious. Spinal cord injury The spinal cord is one of the most vital and vulnerable parts of the body. It is a nerve bundle that connects the brain to the rest of the body and travels through the vertebrae. The spinal cord consists of five different areas, the neck or cervical area, the mid back or thoracic area, the lower back or lumbar area, the Sacrum and the Coccyx. Injuries to the different areas of the spinal cord can cause different symptoms and complications. Typically, an injury higher up on the spinal cord is more serious.
There are many different ways that spinal cord injuries commonly occur. Many of these injuries are sustained in car accidents, falls, sports accidents, diving accidents, birth injuries, trampoline accidents, assaults (often with a knife or gun), construction site accidents, defective products, electric shock, dangerous properties, being hit by a falling object or projectile and medical mistakes. These injuries are often severe and can cause compression, crushing, bruising, fractures, dislocation, laceration and severing of the spinal cord itself.
In 2007, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, about 255,000 people living in the United States had spinal cord injuries and there are about 12,000 new cases per year. According the Oregon Health and Science University, more than half of all spinal cord injuries occur to people between the ages of 16 and 30 and 81.6% of the victims are male.
The symptoms of a spinal cord injury have varying extents depending on the severity of the injury and its location on the spinal cord. Victims may experience spinal shock which causes a decrease in feeling, movement and reflexes. As swelling from the injury subsides, the extent of the damage becomes more known.
Compression fractures are when an injury causes the bone of the vertebrae to compress onto the spinal cord. Bulging discs are common in motor vehicle accidents and falls. In between the bones of the vertebrae are discs that allow for the movement of the spine. When an injury causes a bulge in one or more of these discs, victims of spinal cord injuries can experience pain in other areas of the body if the spinal cord is impacted. A herniated disc is when a vertebrae disc is damaged to the point where it is ruptured or deflated. This type of injury is difficult to see on x-rays because the discs do not show up well. CT scans or MRIs can be necessary to see the herniated disc.
Spinal cord injuries can be debilitating and last a lifetime. Damage to the spinal cord can affect the ability for the brain to properly communicate with the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries often cause problems functioning in the basic tasks of life and can greatly alter a person’s lifestyle. People suffering spinal cord injuries can require care for the rest of their lives. This can be very traumatic for the victims and alter their relationships with their loved ones. Spinal cord injuries can cause pain in other areas of the body, temporary paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, loss of body waste control, vertebrae disc problems, sexual dysfunction, muscle atrophy, breathing problems, muscle spasms, and death. Victims of spinal cord injuries can also develop related injuries such as bladder and lung infections and bed sores. Spinal cord injuries can be irreparable because the spinal column is a very intricate, delicate and complicated organ.
When spinal cord injuries are the fault of another person’s negligence or intentional act, he or she should be held responsible for his or her action or inaction. Compensation for the victim is very important because of the high cost of medical care. Spinal cord injuries often require surgery, rehabilitation and life-long care. Even with health insurance, the out of pocket costs of the care required for many spinal cord injuries can be high. The loss of independence, physical ability, ability to work and quality of life cannot be quantified, but compensation should be sought for these effects of spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord injury cases are often very complicated and expensive. Because of the debilitating nature of many spinal cord injuries, there is often a large amount of money involved in the claim. Because of this it is important to contact an attorney following a spinal cord injury to ensure proper compensation and ensure that treatment can be afforded. Cases often involve the testimony of doctors and can hinge on competing expert testimony.
Oregon Health and Science University Spinal Cord Injury – http://www.ohsu.edu/health/health-topics/topic.cfm?id=9365
ThinkFirst Oregon – http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/outreach/programs/thinkfirst/
Spinal Cord Injury Support Group Oregon Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=65080126995
United Spinal Association – http://www.unitedspinal.org/
National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Spinal Cord injury – http://sci-health.org/
Apparelyzed – Spinal Cord Injury Peer Support – http://www.apparelyzed.com/
The Spinal Cord Injury Zone – http://www.thescizone.com/
Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center – http://www.spinalinjury.net/